By Ola Lanre
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Suspected Boko Haram militants have kidnapped between 10 and 20 people, a family member of one of those abducted, a senator and two military sources said on Wednesday.
The people were aboard a bus from Maiduguri, the city worst hit by Boko Haram, travelling to the town of Gwoza around 100 km(60 miles) away in the east of Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, late on Tuesday.
Boko Haram “attacked commercial vehicles and abducted some civilians – over 10 men and women were abducted”, said one of the military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.
Other sources gave the number taken at around 20.
The abduction calls into question government and military statements that stability and security are returning to the northeast in the conflict with Islamist insurgents Boko Haram, which dates back to 2009.
President Muhammadu Buhari is now seeking a second term in February 2019 elections, campaigning in part on his administration’s successes in the northeast.
A police spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Isa Musa said his uncle was among those kidnapped.
“He was in the bus with some other passengers, men and women, about 20 of them, when the incident occurred,” he said.
A second military source said Boko Haram stopped three vehicles on the road.
“One of the vehicles is a commercial passenger bus with about 20 passengers,” they said. “The terrorists fired shots and took away some of the passengers. Women were among (them) and one of our soldiers was killed in the attack.”
A senator from Borno sate, Ali Ndume, said that he had been contacted by the wife of one of the victims about the kidnapping of about 10 people.
European states have warned the United Nations that more than 800,000 people are cut off from aid and may be starving in northeast Nigeria, in contrast to government assertions that the crisis has abated, and rebuked the world body for failing to secure access.
(Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Alison Williams)